Man, The Walking Dead really knows how to kill momentum. The excitement that came from last week’s episode was squashed. While ‘The Other Side’ promised conflict, ‘Something They Need’ let it go to waste. The Walking Dead spends too much time on building up to conflict, without delivering on it.
First, there’s the conflict between Sasha and the Saviors. It seemed like last week’s episode was leading to an amazing covert strike. However, we see NONE of that in the episode. Instead, we’re told that a conflict happened, and Sasha is stuck getting almost sexually assaulted. Negan makes Sasha the same deal he made Daryl, Carl, and Eugene, which makes him seem extra forgiving. The four killed more Saviors than last season, and those deaths made Negan kill Glenn and Abraham. Negan’s been softened so that no major deaths can happen – until the finale, probably. Not only that, but Sasha’s badass moment was robbed from her, replaced with her cowering in front of Negan.
Meanwhile, Rick and his gang essentially become Saviors in this episode. The Walking Dead turns their heroes into terrorizers, doing the same thing Negan does. Considering how Tara was semi-friendly with the Oceansiders, it seems totally uncalled for. Especially considering how quickly they jump to protect the gang, it feels odd. The motivations of the characters, across the board, don’t make a lot of sense. With The Walking Dead’s love of adding in side characters to kill, you’d think the Oceanside ladies would be joining the fight. And perhaps they’ll be tossed into the fray in the finale. But for now, it makes no sense why they were introduced, only to be robbed blind.
Many of the characters this episode had poor motivations. Dwight joining the gang feels like a bland take on Merle’s change of heart. Gregory’s indecisiveness is getting old, and it makes it hard to feel excited to watch. Negan’s defense of Sasha follows his authoritative bloodlust, but not his hatred of all things Rick. At least Eugene is consistent, but that’s largely because he’s defined by his big words.
Once again, The Walking Dead hints at conflict, while giving us none. Yes, there’s some light walker-stabbing, but that’s old hat. By this point last season, the group had taken on several cells of Saviors and won. The fact that The Walking Dead hasn’t given us a shred of conflict is unimaginably infuriating. In fact, a lot of this season has felt reminiscent of season three – Negan is The Governor, and Dwight is Merle. Season three’s finale was a major disappointment, and it took halfway through S4 for a somewhat satisfying conclusion. If The Walking Dead repeats this, it’ll show a fundamental problem of repeating mistakes. But as long as it isn’t another protagonist-killing cliffhanger, I suppose that’s better than nothing.